I began listening to this album filled with skepticism. Since her debut I’ve been a huge fan of Esperanza Spalding’s music. However, as I saw her style change dramatically in the last couple of years, I was less and less excited about the release of D+Evolution. This evolution and alter ego felt rather odd to me and I began to wonder who convinced her this was a good idea. Still, I am generally a fan of her music and was willing to give the album a chance with open ears and an open mind. After a few listens I feel comfortable saying this album exceeded my expectations. I can’t say everyone will like it, but I think many will be pleased.
The Jazz Police will probably hate this album. No swinging going on here! This is very much so a rock/ fusion album. The appeal of this album is lyric based. There is very little improvisation and this album fits a rock setting much better in my opinion. Also, as a fusion album, it would be on the lower end, kind of like Mahavishnu Orchestra lite. That may sound like an insult, but there is nothing wrong with being, Mahavishnu Orchestra lite.
So with all these criticism I have of the recording how can I recommend it? Well, the melodic ideas are catchy and the compositions are daring. “Good Lava” and “Rest In Pleasure” are notable tracks where the melodies ended up stuck in my head for hours after I listened to them. Tracks like “I Want It Now” and “Ebony and Ivy” are unlike anything Spalding has ever made and some of the most unique Jazz compositions I’ve ever heard.
Your enjoyment of this album will depend on your tolerance to a different sound and what you are looking for in a record in general. Like catchy melodies? Want to be challenged with unique compositions? Then you will probably enjoy D+Evolution. Another issue that comes up is “Is this a Jazz album?” Many might consider this album to be a departure from jazz being that it’s lacking some of the main elements needed for something to be called jazz. I won’t give my two cents here, I’ll let you decide for yourself. Overall I enjoyed this album more than I thought I would, but not nearly as much as its predecessors. I’ll keep listening to Esperanza Spalding’s music and I’m looking forward to what she does next, with reserved enthusiasm.